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Special Collections & Archives 
Merrill-Cazier Library 
Utah State University 

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CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS 



Office of the 



Heber Meeks 
Mission President 



Southern States Mission 
485 North Avenue, N. E. 
Atlanta 5> Ga« 



June 20, 1947 



Doctor Lowry Nelson 
University of Minnesota 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 



Dear Lowry: 

A short time ago at the request of the First Presidency I visited Cuba in view 
of doing missionary work on that island. While there I met Mr. Chester W. Young 
who was in Havana representing the Nation Office of Vital Statistics Parr-American 
Sanitary Bureau, He was very helpful to us and in the course of our conversation 
I learned that he was very well acquainted with you and wished to be remembered 
to you. We found both his wife and him to be very delightful and charming people. 

He advised me that you spent some two years in Cuba making a study of rural com- 
munities. Your study there would be very helpful to us. I would appreciate your 
opinion as to the advisability of doing missionary work particularly in the rural 
sections of Cuba, knowing, of course, our concept of the Negro and his position 
as to the Priesthood, 

Are there groups of pure white blood in the rural sections, particularly in the 
small communities? If so, are they maintaining segregation from the Negroes? 
The best information we received waa.that in the rural communities there was no 
segregation of the races and it would probably be difficult to find, with any 
degree of certainty, groups of pure white people. 

I would also like your reaction as to what progress you think the Church might 
be able to make in doing missionary work in Cuba in view of, particularly in the 
rural section, the ignorance and superstition of the people and their being so 
steeped in Catholicism. Do you think our message would have any appeal to them? 

My observation, and we made some very fine contacts with outstanding leaders in 
many of the fields of activity, was that in the urban communities there are groups 
to which we could make an appeal, particularly with the youth program of the Church. 
Many of the leaders expressed themselves that there was a great need for such a pro- 
gram as our Church has, in their communities. 

I assure you I will deeply appreciate any information you can give me along the 
lines as indicated. With kindest personal regards and best wishes, I am 



Sincerely your brother, 



(signed) Heber Meeks 

Mission President 




mYimZlTl OT HIM^SO TA 

^gpstrtoprit nf igririil tnre 
TTnivnrnitnr Thrnu 

June 26, 1947 

President Heber Weeks 
485 North Avenue , N e E 
Atlanta 5j> Georgia 

Dear Heber % 

It is nice to have word of you after so many years . I am writing this, as 
you see, from our alma mater where I am teaching the first term of the summer 
session A thousand memories of student days flood in upon me every day„ It is 
pleasant to see old friends and to make new ones among those who have joined the 
staff since I left* 

Yes, I spent a year in the Caribbean from September 1945 to September 1946, 
Most of ncr time was spent in Cuba, but I managed to get to some of the other 
islands as well, I have nearly completed a book about Cuba, but it mil be some 
time before it is published . I was pleased to have word of my friend Chester 
Young, whom I saw in Havana and also in Santo Domingo during my year down there. 

The attitude of the Church in regard to the Negro makes me very sad* Your 
letter is the first intimation I have had that there was a fixed doctrine on this 
point o I had always known that certain statements had been made by authorities 
regarding the status of the Negro, but I had never assumed that they constituted 
an irrevocable doctrine. I hope no final word has been said on this matter. I 
must say that I have never been able to accept the idea, and never shall * I do 
not believe that God is a racist c But if the Church has taken an irrevocable 
stand, I would dislike to see it enter Cuba or any other island where different 
races live and establish missionary work,. The white and colored people get along 
much better in the Caribbean and most of Latin-American than they do in the United 
States o Prejudice exists, there is na do.ubt, and the whites in many ways manifest 
their feelings of superiority, but .there .is mucii less of it than one finds in USA, 
especially in our South, For us to go into a situation like that and preach a 
doctrine of "white supremacy n woula, it seems to me, be a tragic disservice, I 
am speaking frankly, because I feel very keenly on this question. If world brother- 
hood and the universal God idea mean anything, it seems to me they mean equality 
of races , I fail to see how Moraonism or any other religion claiming to be more 
than a provincial church can take any other point of view} and there cannot be 
world peace until the pernicious doctrine of the superiority of one race and the 
inferiority of others is rooted onto This is my belief • 

In reference to Catholicism, while the Cubans are nominally Roman Catholic, 
they take the religion rather lightly , Wherever I went, I asked rural people about 
the church and invariably they told me that they saw the priest only once a year, 
when he came around to baptize the babies at $3*00 per head; like branding the 
calves at the annual roundup. Some families have crucifixes and other parapher- 
nalia in their homes and carry on something of the ancient ritual, but w i*hprQ$*r- 
ion is that it means little to most of them 



*- "I. I* 

President Heber Meeks — 2 — 



The Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists have, as you know, done a great 
deal of missionary work in the Island, and have rendered Cuba a great service in 
maintaining schools, hospitals, etc.j however, they have limited their work largely 
to the urban centers. There is a great service to be rendered rural Cubans if the 
right approach were made. Mormonism is well adapted to render such service with 
its system of lay leadership and many activity programs, Many rural Cubans have 
nothing in the way of organized social life. To them, the family is the basic in- 
stitution and beyond it, the neighborhood. Our Church would provide them with 
something very sorely needed. It would develop leadership among them, provide them 
with hope and aspiration, give them a feeling of importance as individuals which 
they have never had. They have been exploited by priest and politician,- they have 
been led to believe that the government is not any of their responsibility and that 
the Church is the business of the priest and the bishop. While there is a great 
deal of individualism among them, they have definite and. discernible feelings of 
inferiority when it comes to matters of leadership. 

I am talking about the white people now| the rural people are predominantly 
white. That is, they are as white as Mediterranean peoples are - Spanish, Italians, 
etc., who have been in contact with "color* for centuries« The Moors occupied Spain, 
you know, for seven centuries. There are no pure races j on this anthropologists are 
in general agreement* Of course, this does not mean that Negro blood exists through- 
out the white race or vice versa . There is grave doubt, however, as to the purity 
of the Nordic, Mediterranean, or even the Negro . Because I think our system of re- 
ligious organization could serve the rural Cuban people as no other system could, I 
ajn sad to have to write you and say, for what ray opinion is worth, that it would be 
better for the Cubans if we did not enter their island - unless we are willing to 
revise our racial theory. To teach them the pernicious doctrine of segregation and 
inequalities among races where it does not exist, or to lend religious sanction to 
it where it has raised its ugly head would, it seems to me, be tragic . It seems to 
me we just fought a war over such ideas t 

I repeat, my frankness or bluntness, as you will, is born of a fervent desire 
to see the causes of war rooted out of the hearts of men. What limited study I 
have been able to give the subject leads me to the conclusion that ethnocentrism, 
and the smugness and intolerance which accompany it, is one of the first evils to 
be attacked if we are to achieve the goal of peace . 

I trust you will understand my writing you as I have. 

Sincerely, 



(signed) Lowry Nelson 

LNtgj 

cc: Pres. George Albert Smith 



COPY 



COPY 

, f le partemont of flgrjnil t . irre 
Univarp-ity ¥&rm } < St,, -Psral 1 

June 26, .1947 



President George Albert Smith 
47 East South Temple 
Salt Lake City, Utah 

Dear President Smith! 

I am in receipt today of a letter from President Heber 
Meeks, an old school friend, copy of which I am enclosing together 
with a copy of my reply. It is self-explanatory* 

Perhaps I am out of order, so to speak, in expressing 
nyself as I have, I have done so out of strong conviction on the 
subject, and with the added impression that there is no irrevocable 
church doctrine on this subject* I am not unaware of statements 
and impressions which have been passed- dawn, but I had never been 
brought face to face with the possibility that the doctrine was 
finally crystallized, , I devoutly hope that such crystallisation 
has not taken place. The many good friends of mixed blood - through 
no fault of theirs incidentally - which I have in the Caribbean and 
who know me to be a Mormon would be shocked indeed if I were to tell 
them my Church relegated them to an inferior status. 

As I told Heber, there is no doubt in my mind that our 
Church could perform a great service in Cuba, particularly in the 
rural areas ? but it would be far better that we not go in at all, 
than to go in and promote racial distinction, 

I wanted you to know my feelings on this question and 
trust you will understand the spirit in which I say these things* 
I want to see us promote love and harmony among peoples of the 
earth « 

Sincerely, 



Lowry Nelson 
( signed) 

LNsgJ 



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CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS 

Office of the First Presidency 
Salt Lake City, 1, Utah 

July 1, 1947 



Dr. Lowry Nelson 

Utah State Agricultural College 

Logan., Utah 

Dear Dr. Nelsons 

,Your letter of June 26, addressed to President Smith, has been received • 
, However, it did not contain a... copy of. ..your letter to President Meeks, If you 
will send me a copy of that letter, I shall then be in a position to bring 
your communication to the attention of the President* The matter is inconr- 
plete without this letter. 

Faithfully yours, 



(signed) ■ Joseph Anderson 

Secretary to the First Presidency 



July 17, 1947 



Dr. Lowry Nelson 

Utah State Agricultural College 

Logan, Utah 

Dear Brother Nelsons 

As you have been advised, your letter of June 26 was received in due course, 
and likewise we now have a copy of your letter to President Meeks-. We have care- 
fully considered their contents, and are glad to advise you as follows: 

We make this initial remarks the social side of the Restored Gospel is only 
an incident of it; it is not the end thereof* 

The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God T s chil- 
dren stand in equal positions before Him in all things* 

Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to 
the very fundamentals of God*s dealings with Israel dating from the time of His 
promise to Abraham regarding Abraham 1 s seed and their position vis-a~vis God 
Himself* Indeed, some of God*s children were assigned to superior positions be- 
fore the world was formed. We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept 
this, but the Church does. 



Dr. Lowry Nelson 



- 2 - 



■J- 1 ^ 19£ t 



Yoirr position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching 
the preexistence of our spirits , the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that 
our birth into this life and the advantages under which we my be born, have a 
relationship in the life heretofore * 

From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine 
of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes 
are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel. 

Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the 
intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been 
most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now* 
God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People,, has been endogenous . Modern Israel 
has been similarly directed • 

We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particu- 
larly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the 
breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites 
and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to 

Church doctrine • 

Faithfully yours, 

(signed) Geo, Albert- Smith 

J* Reuben Clark, Jr. 
David 0, McKay 



The First Presidency 



UNIVERSITY. OF MINNESOTA 



Department of Agriculture 
University . Farm, St. Paul 1 

October 8, 1947 



The First Presidency 

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
47 East South Temple 
Salt Lake City., Utah 

Dear Brethren* 

Your letter of July 17th sent to me at Logan was forwarded here, 
but I had already left for Europe and so did not get it until I returned to 
my office September & 9 I want to thank you for it, and the attention you 
gave me, The letter is, however, a disappointment to me, as you may surmise 
it would be from what I said in my letter to President Meeks, 

It seems strange to me in retrospect as it must have seemed to 

you that I should have never before had to face up to this doctrine of the 

Church relative to the Negro , I remember that it was discussed from time to 
time during my boyhood and youth., in Priesthood meetings or elsewhere in Church 
classes^ and always someone would say something about the Negroes n sitting on 
the fence" during the Council in Heaven,, They did not take a stand, it was 
said a Somehow there was never any very strong conviction manifest regarding 
the doctrine, perhaps because the question was rather, an academic one to us in 
Ferron, where there were very few people who had ever seen a Negro, let alone 
having lived in the same community with them. So the doctrine was always passed 
over rather lightly I should say, with no Scripture ever being quoted or referred 
to regarding the matter, except perhaps to refer to the curse of Cain, or of Ham 
and Canaan, (I went back and re-read the latter the other evening* It was diffi- 
cult to find any element of justice in Noah T s behavior toward Ham, since the lat- 
ter merely reported to his brothers that his father was lying there in a drunken 
state and in a nude condition, and the other boys put a cover over him* Because 
Ham reported his father's condition, he was cursed f) 

But anyway, I really had never come face to face with the issue until 
this summer . In the meantime, since my youth, I have chosen to spend my pro- 
fessional career in the field of the social sciences, the general purpose of 
which is to describe and understand human behavior «, I probably should have had 

less difficulty with some of these problems such as the race problem had I 

remained in agronomy and chemistry, my undergraduate fields of specialization <> 
Be that as it may, my experience has been what it has been. As a sociologist, 
I have sincerely tried, and am still trying, to understand human social relations^ 
the varied forms of organization, the processes of conflict, cooperation, compe- 
tition, assimilation, why peoples and cultures differ one from another, etc. 

As one studies the history and characteristics of human societies^ one 
soon comes to recognize certain basic principles. One of these is social change* 
Any given society over the years undergoes changes . It is forever in a state of 
fluxo Some scholars have regarded such change as progress , and have even consid- 
ered that progress is inevitable. Others chart the rise and fall of civilizations 
and think in terms of cyclical change . Others express still different hypotheses, 
but none of them consider society as a static entity „ 



C _0 PI 

" " _ October 8, 1947 

The First Presidency ^ 

■ 1-1. «K4f»>, stands out as one studies the development of 

me that Jesus was trying to get thxs point over ^ ^ 

he spoke of putting new wxne xn old Wto.^ ^ Qf ^ 

5^r- c^f"^ ouflXan-r.course, the institutions had 
to S protected even at the cost of His crucifxxxon. 

Another principle that ^ f -^™S. & L^Lfd^ima^ 
analysis of human behavior is that of ethr ^n tr^ sm . as j 
Sa/am Sumner, who first developed the concept ^/^S^^^others 
things in which one's own group is the center °* J^Jg^ ^ x^ofar 
are sealed and rated with reference to it J- ^^^ d V 'Ji^ erLoT by 
as the "out-group" differs from the "^"g ^^ automatically 
the latter. A people with a different skin color ^ in _ 

all groups o 

Hebrews, the Old Testament history *™ 8^** J ^d practices, many of which, 
their early stages of development they had be ^£* * n ? p tT Hebr e WS of the Penta- 
were subsequently supplanted by other ideas Jehov ah to .the Hebre , ^ ^ ^ 
teuch was essentially a tribal diety^ It wae not until ^ ^ essential 

universal God was proclaimed. And the concepx oi rep resents "progress- 

contribution of the mission of the Savior, g) This to me repr ^ ^ 

of their extreme ethnocentrisnu 

Why did they not have something to --Jj^^g^^ 
the American Indian? To me the answer .^^^^SSS^tta^A 
istedo But one can be pretty certain that if the ^n„ thSr origin to that con- 
would have developed some similar explanation Regarding thex ^xgxn ^ Ued 
cerning the Negro, and would have assxgned them also to a posxtxon 
than their own„ 

(« to d once these things got written down- 

assume an aura of J ^^SK, ?£ United States, 

but to more secular documents as well -™ ree ardless of the apparent 

for instance, which many people do not want to change "garai 
needs. So we are in the position, it seems to me of accepting a^octri^ 

s as - P 5t rs.-t^; «^r?s-» s- ^ support 

for such a doctrine of inequality in His recorded sayings. 



GO FY 

The First Presidency - 3 - October 8* 1947 



I am deeply troubled. Having decided through earnest study that one 
of the chief causes of war is the existence of ethnocentrism among the peoples 
of the worlds that war is our major social evil which threatens to send all of 
us to destructions and that we cm ameliorate these f eelings of ethnocentrism 
by promoting understanding of one people by othersj I am now qonfronted with 
this doctrine of my own church which says in effect that white supremacy is 
part of Gad's plan for His children; that the Negro has been assigned by Him 
to be a hewer of wood and drawer of water for his white-skinned brethren* This 
makes us nominal allies of the Rankins and the Bilbos of Mississippi^, a quite 
unhappy alliance for me^ I assure you» 

This doctrine pressed to its logical conclusion would say that Dr. 
George Washington Carver, the late eminent and saintly Negro scientist $ is by 
virtue of the color of his skin, inferior even to the least admirable white 

person*, not because of the virtues he may or may not possess-, but because 

through no fault of his there is a dark pigment in his skin. , All of the 

people of India- —who are not NegroeS-.according to ethnological authority, 
but are Aryan- —would presumably , come, under the Negro classification, I think 
of the intelligent, higfr-minded, clean-living Hindu who was a member of the 
International Committee over which I had the honor to preside at Geneva from 
August U to 10, this year. He drank not, smoked not, his ethical standard? 
were such that you and I could applaud him. Where should he rank vis~&-ri3 
the least reliable and least admirable white person in Ferron? Or I could 
name you a real Negro with equal qualifications. 

Now, you say that the "social side of the Restored Gospel &*s orify 
an incident of it % it is not the end thereof, 1 I may not hare the sane con- 
cept of 'social* as you had in mind, but it seems to me the only virtue we can 
recognise in men is that expressed in their relations with others; that is 
their ^social* relations, Are the virtues of honesty, chastity, fojmiHt| 
forgiveness, tolerance, love, kindness, justice, secondary? If so r if hat is 
primary? • Love of God? Very well. But the second (law) is like «atq 44- 

I must beg your forgiveness for this intrusion upon your t:i#9e ~X- 
realize that I am only one among hundreds of thousands with whon you have to 
be concerned, }fy little troubles I must try to work out myself , 8ut X de- 
sire to be understood. That's why I have gone to such length to set down Were 
the steps in my thinking, I am trying to be honest with myself and Kith oHm 
.1 am trying to find my way in what is a very confuse i world* /.fi>er $e£ute f he- 
devastation of - Europe this summer, I am appalled by the sight of .if.. OjwI ffce 
contemplation of what mankind can collectively do to hi&self-, unless sometaw 

we P collectively— —the human family can put love of each ©ther above teYttJ 

and somehow come to a mutual respect based upon understanding, and C((*§nizt 
that others, although they may be different from us, are not by )||jfr fbtt qSd*\€ 
inferior. Are we becoming so legalistic (after the fashion of thepha riiftfs 
that we cannot adjust our institutions to the charging needs of aranKifld Are 
we, as some have charged, more Hebraic than Christian? 



Siicerr I ' <_ v 

Special Collections & Archives 

Merrill-CazlerUbrary rj0Wr> mson 

Utah §Jgt| University professor of socioio? 



November 12, 1947 



Dr. Lowry Nelson 
University of Minnesota 
Department of Agriculture 
University Farm 
Stc Paul 1, Minnesota 

Dear Brother Nelson: 

We have your letter of October 8 in further development of the matter 
discussed in your earlier letter. 

We feel very sure that you understand well the doctrines of the Churcho 
They are either true or not true. Our testimony is that they are true. Under 
these circumstances we may not permit ourselves to be too much impressed by 
the reasonings of men however well-founded they may seem to be. We should like 
to say this to you in all kindness and in all sincerity that you are too fine a 
man to permit yourself to be led off from the principles of the Gospel by worldly- 
learning, lou have too much of a potentiality for doing good and we therefore 
prayerfully hope that you can reorient your thinking and bring it in line with 
the revealed word of God. 



Faithfully yours, 

THE FIRST PRESIDENCY (signed) G. Albert Smith 



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Lay Saints 
Office of the First Presidency 
Salt ^ake City l, Utah 



Hay 23, 1952 



Htm Lowry Nelson 

1075 - lUth Avenue ByS, 

Minneapolis lit, Minn. 

Dear Brother Kelson: 

lour letter "without date, addressed to President 
McKay, was duly received, with which you transmitted 
an article which you say you intend to publish. 

President McKay wishes me to say that obviously 
you are entirely within your rights to publish any 
article you wish. 

I should like to add on ray own account, however, 
that when a member of the Church sets himself up 
against doctrines preached by the Prophet Joseph Smith 
and by those who have succeeded him in the high office 
which he held, he is moving into a very dangerous posi- 
tion for himself personally. 

Sincerely yours, 



Joseph Anderson /signed/ 



Secretary to the First Presidency